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upon the occasion,-that after all our exhortations against it, it is to be feared, that there will be evil-speaking enough left in the world to chastise the guilty, and we may safely trust them to an ill-natured world, that there will be no failure of justice upon this score. The passions of men are pretty severe executioners, and to them let us leave this ungrateful task,-and rather ourselves endeavor to cultivate that more friendly one, recommended by the apostle,-of letting all bitterness, and wrath, and clamor and evil-speaking, be put away from us,-of being kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another even as GOD, for CHRIST's sake, forgave us. Amen.

Joseph's History considered.


GEN ESIS 1. 15.

And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was, dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.


HERE are few instances of the exercise of particular virtues, which seem harder to attain to, or which appear more amiable and enga ging in themselves, than those of moderation, and the forgiveness of injuries: And when the temptations against them happen to be heightened by the bitterness of a provocation on the one hand, and the fairness of an opportunity to retaliate on the other, the instances then are truly great and heroic. The words of the text (which are the consultation of the sons of Jacob amongst themselves upon their father Israel's death, when, because it was in Joseph's power to revenge the deadly inju ry they had formerly done him, they concluded in course, that it was in his intention), will lead us to a beautiful example of this kind, in the character and behavior of Joseph consequent thereupon; and as it seems a perfect and very engaging pattern of forbearance, it may not be improper to make it serve for the ground-work of a discourse upon that subject. The whole transaction, from the first occasion given by Joseph in his youth, to this last act of remission, at the conclusion of his life, may be said to be a master-piece of history. There is, not only in the manner

throughout, such a happy, tho' uncommon mixture of simplicity and grandeur, which is a double character so hard to be united, that it is seldom to be met with in compositions merely human ; but it is likewise related with the greatest variety of tender & affecting circumstances, which would afford matter for reflections useful for the conduct of almost every part and stage of a man's life. But as the words of the text, as well as the inten tion and compass of this discourse, particularly confine me to speak only to one point, namely, the forgiveness of injuries, it will be proper only to consider such circumstances of the story, as will place this instance of it in its just light; and then proceed to make a more general use of the great example of moderation and forbearance which it sets before us.

It seems strange, at first sight, that, after the sons of Jacob had fallen into Joseph's power,when they were forced, by the soreness of the famine, to go down into Egypt to buy corn, and had found him too good a man even to expostu late with them for an injury, which he seemed then to have digested, and piously to have resolved into the overruling providence of Gop, for the preservation of much people,-how they could ever after question the uprightness of his intentions, or entertain the least suspicion that his reconciliation was dissembled. Would one have imagined, that the man who had discovered such a goodness of soul, that he sought where to weep, because he could not bear the struggles of a counterfeited harshness, could ever be suspected after, wards of intending a real one,—and that he only waited till their father Israel's death, to requite them all the evil which they had done unto him? What still adds to this difficulty, is, that his affectionate manner in making himself known to them his goodness in forbearing, not only to

reproach them for the injury they had formerly done him, but extenuating and excusing the fault to themselves, his comforting and speaking kindly to them, and seconding all with the tenderest marks of an undisguised forgiveness, in falling upon their necks, and weeping aloud, that all the house of Pharaoh heard him ;- -that moreover, this behavior of Joseph could not appear to them to be the effect of any warm and sudden transport, which might as suddenly give way to other reflections,but that it evidently sprung from a settled principle of uncommon generosity in his nature, which was above the temptation of making use of an opportunity for revenge, which the course of GOD's providence had put into his hands for better purposes; and what might still seem to confirm this, was the evidence, of his actions to them afterwards, in bringing them, and all their household, out of Canaan, and placing them near him in the land of Goshen, the richest part of Egypt, where they had so many years experience of his love and kindness. And yet it is plain, that all this did not clear his motive from suspicion, or at least themselves from some apprehensions of a change in his conduct towards them. And, was it not that the whole transaction was wrote under the direction of the Spirit of truth, and that other historians concur in doing justice to Joseph's character, and speak of him as a compassionate and merciful man, one would be. apt you will say, to imagine here, that Moses might possibly have omitted some circumstances of Joseph's behavior, which had alarmed his brethren, betwixt the time of his first reconciliation and that of their father's death. For they could not be suspicious of his intentions without some cause, and fear where no fear was.-But does not a guilty conscience often do so, and tho' it has the grounds, yet wants the power to think itself safe?

And could we look into the hearts of those who know they deserve ill, we should find many an instance, where a kindness from an injured hand, where there was least reason to expect one, has struck deeper, and touched the heart with a degree of remorse and concern, which perhaps no severity or resentment could have reached. This reflection will in some measure help to explain this difficulty which occurs in the story. For it is observable, that when the injury they had done their brother was first committed, and the fact was fresh upon their minds, and most likely to have filled them with a sense of guilt, we find no acknowledgment or complaint to one another of such a load, as one might imagine it had laid upon them; and, from that event, through a long course of years to the time they had gone down to Egypt, we read not once of any sorrow or compunction of heart which they had felt during all that time, for what they had done. They had artfully imposed upon their parent-and (as men are ingenious casuists in their own affairs) they had probably, as artfully imposed upon their own consciences; and possibly, had never impartially reflected upon the action, or considered it in its just light, till the many acts of their brother's love and kindness had brought it before them, with all the circumstances of aggravation which his behavior would naturally give it.They then began maturely to consider what they had done That they had first undeservedly hated him in his childhood, for that, which, if it was a ground of complaint, ought rather to have been charged upon the indiscretion of the parent, than considered as a fault in him,—That, upon a more just examination, and a better knowledge of their brother, they had wanted even that pretence :It was not a blind partiality which seemed first to have directed their father's affection to him,—



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